Monday 26 August 2019

Sixty two known deaths in flooding in Sudan.

Sixty two people are now known to have died, ninety eight have been injured, and around 200 000 have been driven from their homes in a series of floods across Sudan this month. Seventeen of the country's eighteen provinces have been effected by the floods, which have swept away at least 35 000 houses and caused severe damage to the country's already week infrastructure. There are now fears that standing water may lead to outbreaks of water-born diseases such as Cholera or Malaria.

Flooding in the town of Wad Ramli in northern Khartoum State. EPA.

The majority of the flooding has been caused by high waters on the River Nile, following exceptional rainfall in the mountains of Ethiopia this year, which has in turn been caused by high temperatures over the Gulf of Oman, leading to higher levels of evaporation there. High levels of evaporation in the Gulf of Oman leads to more rainfall in Ethiopia, and higher waters on the River Nile, and recent years have seen a series of exceptionally hot summers in the region, with consequent increases in flooding and water born disease along the course of the Nile.

A road washed away by flooding outside of Omdurman. Sudan Daily.

Many areas away from the Nile have been effected by flash flooding. Like many desert areas, arid parts of Sudan, while generally arid, is prone to occasional severe flooding. This stems from two causes; firstly the arid climate prevents the development of a thick soil layer which would be expected in less dry areas, so that in much of the area (non-porous) bedrock is either exposed or close to the surface, and secondly the hot climate leads to heavy evaporation from nearby seas and oceans, so that if the wind changes direction and brings water-laden air to the area, it brings a lot of precipitation with it. This combination of heavy rainfall and low ground absorbency leads to large amounts of water at the surface, typically moving downhill at some speed. Wadis, dry channels or ravines through which these sudden floods are channelled, can be particularly dangerous at these times, particularly as they often appear to resemble natural pathways or even camp sites to people unfamiliar with the climate.

A flooded village in Sudan. Athavan News.

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